We are exhausting the biosphere’s habitability mainly by burning fossil fuels and deforesting the land. Unless we significantly change many of our behaviors future generations will suffer from our neglect.
The biosphere’s sustainable human carrying capacity may not be much greater than 2 to 3 billion. It may be considerably less if the expected lifestyles (consumption patterns) are anywhere close to that of the United States. Our ability to live resiliently within the biosphere’s capacity must take into consideration our sources of energy and how they affect our habitat. It is well established that the exhaust from burning fossil fuels is degrading habitability. The supply of these finite resources is being exhausted. Without an efficient shift to clean sources of energy an energy crisis will eventually develop and the carrying capacity will most certainly decline even further. The post-fossil fuel world could be much grimmer than most people imagine. Fossil fuels are currently the foundation of our modern society. How quickly and efficiently we transition to cleaner alternatives will be a measure of humanity’s capacity for long term planning, our ability to see beyond our immediate needs, and our ability to prepare for the needs of future generations before they arrive.